Sunday, August 31, 2008

arriving at Shari's restaurant

before getting out of the car
I looked into the mirror
and there I was
intermittent music, laughter,
many voices in animated conversation
in a different language, Mandarin I believe
one word carries over the fences, clearly

fitting in

she did not want to be the only one to obey the law
so she crossed against the light with the others

never say I can't make things rhyme

for the houseplant, a life
with never a breeze
never an insect to land on its leaves
dead air between the couch and chair,
his moods and her despair

lifts leaves each night though not in prayer

Saturday, August 30, 2008

hot days, no fog discovery

just because you can’t see them
doesn’t mean they’re not there

Cassiopea beside the Redwood
sitting faintly in her chair

the dipper scooping city lights
in its giant square

(faulty compass notwithstanding
it’s finally clear where North is)

by the estuary

a bell rings and the road rises
centerline pointing at the clouds

one bridge lifts away cleanly
and the next has already stopped the cars
for “Paycheck” which pulls
a wake of corrugated waves

I would not choose a ship so tall
as to intrude on bridges
but a dinghy like that one
bearded man, hand on noisy outboard
taking his Irish Setter for a water ride


the people said it is enough
it is more than enough
and went back
to their smaller houses

the trees went back
to their old roots

Friday, August 29, 2008

outside cat?

I'll bet (said the cat)
I can sneak in more often
than she can put me out...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

another one, faster

there goes your self-same car
you just
passed yourself

on the interstate

truck and trailer of hay going north
meets truck and trailer of hay going south
is there no way to coordinate this?

re: fires

California, in summer blonde
fair hair of sun-bleached hills

When living in a straw barn
be careful with the lantern...

tiniest birds–answering bits of intent

The same flock through here, daily

tumbling through bushes
over and under, same size as the leaves

One bush tit separates, detours to the window
tries to grab the fly on the inside of the pane

Saturday, August 2, 2008

anniversary story

stick with me, he said
I’m worth it
and wouldn’t you know it? He was

Sundial Bridge in Redding

who dared write this green glass crossing
ribbed timepiece, musical instrument
strings tuned for plucking
this too white sail
alarmingly high fin
and not a word of it can be changed later?
for a city with a box score
of too many box stores
a foot-bridge, too outspoken
over the river with a too-white sail
alarmingly high fin
(which is, as you say,
when people are hungry, a waste)
how can I explain to you
the soaring of my love

Friday, July 18, 2008

more words about the Calatrava bridge in Redding

There is no reason to cross the river but for the bridge

I want to emphasize
how much the bridge cares about you, personally
The bridge has eyes for no one but you

Even now I am yearning for the bridge

(“the capacity of things to be close to us”)
mother comes in a package, small, neat & odorless

she is still in charge of perfection
I can’t even see that well

gardening at this age

plants, at least, stay where you put them
the only thing I can still dominate

words are impossible, slippery, mistaken
reverse themselves to their opposite meaning

(presented playfully, they
become ominous, take on a sinister tone)

I never have to apologize for my peas

Thursday, July 17, 2008

hikers by in a group
of coughs, laughs, tramp of boots

mark the trail on the other side of the lake
colors passing between gray rocks

(I am waiting on the bench
for a royal purple jacket, a dog, sunset red
and the leap of heart)

sunbrowned and hatted

even when everyone comes here
it’s still you alone in the wilderness
carrying your weight in sun and wind burn
up against gravity, down over rock and root
you against thirst, hunger, weariness
the interminable daily needs and toiletries

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

turning in for the night
after driving all day
the motel is just a giant stationary camper
which periodically gives a silent lurch

sit on the bench by the open door
cool wind playing in the leaves
cracked lips, sunburned face

same crackling fires overhead
stars, none missing

same sickle, upright over the trees
you know the mountains
I don’t have to tell you

no cell phone reception,
even from the highest overlook
parades of granite crowns

stacks of weathered granite, pitted, cracked
inclines of scuffed white granite
lichen blackened granite
sparkle of broken granite

pine needles crunchy underfoot
and now the wind, like a waterfall
in the ponderosa pine with the plated orange trunk
then, all the ponderosa pines

along the asphalt trail,
memorial plaques mounted on a rusting pipe
here the emigrants passed by
here the Indians had to be destroyed
silence of the white dam holding back the sky

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

dreaming past the alarm

a sea of glass statues
where the getting out of bed should be
she stops to examine them--
late to work again

Saturday, July 12, 2008

it's a gravel road

on the way to the lake
within sight of the cold blue water
bushes pale under the load of dust
tree roots grasp the waning embankments

Friday, July 11, 2008

windy today

the wind arriving from far
on the way to a destination that
varies from moment to moment
wants nothing from us
I have opened the doors and windows
for it to blow through the house

Thursday, July 10, 2008

visit to Georgetown

when the light lets go
of the high places
the clouds turn golden faces to the sun
under the low bridge
the river rushes away from me
but I'm in no hurry at all
and stay till the world fades to grey
I walk back in the black
with a turquoise sky to guide me
in puddles by the road

breakfast at McDonalds

everyone just pretends
the food is real
finish your fries, dear
or it's no mcmuffin for you


against gravity
the fight is up
a grove of douglas firs, up
birds up, jubilantly
up, the mountains launch your eyes

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

near Dunsmuir

soft hills lounging
against starched peaks
forests stuffed with trees
faint birds live here, and bears in fur
and glimmering fish in choppy lakes
and the lonely osprey in is nest
atop the tallest tree

Monday, July 7, 2008

sugar pine

there are no greater honors
than to stand on the rim of the day
arms stretched out to the air
hands dripping cones

Saturday, July 5, 2008


a photograph is barely a reminder
the sun does not touch your face
you and the river are not breathing
the same air
and you’ll never know
what the photographer left out

whether she stepped in from silence
and miles of valley or the sound
of a leaf blower from the million dollar
house up on the hill

wood smoke, incense of a cedar?
or smell of sewage, rotten apples
fishermen stabbing the river with their poles


(flows from a topknot
a cloud, the connecting ice, a dam
flows from a pipeline, broken egg, a womb)

not just another one of your clean, unencumbered designs
but upwellings, backwashes, crinkles, folds
intricacies and lusters
saltation and exultation

all shine and dread at times, shifting greens
today the Sacramento is open, carefree, with a sound
of children scuffing through the autumn leaves


--just a way for the water to get down
forest-green, mint and white
the river, patterned runner

a coming together
waters poured into waters

intertwining flows
it’s a braided river-rope

a roar in place,
freight train shrieking by out of tune

American dipper beneath the railroad bridges
chubby, blinking a white eye


--cottonwoods by the river
always a hint of darkness to the leaves
as if keeping tragedy in view
through sunlight and eclipse
nothing carried to excess or ecstasy
a periodic cotton elation


listen carefully, he said
a rhythm has to beat somewhere in the music
but the water

overflows the pool and falls
divided, overflows the stone
clearly in small arcs
falls white in foam

one continuous exhalation


--hearing things
Though alone, I hear
my husband’s voice
say my name by the waterfall
and look to where my son is safe
down among the cliffs and rocks

“between insane and wise
there is no double yellow line?”


where white curtains empty themselves
on the rocks in a white splash shadow

a dipper’s hunched on white legs
whistle tuned
for strident battle with the water


cream with pink edges
the failing porcelain
of a rose

opulent dahlias
staked in strict rows

wood smoke
rotting apples and
incense from a cedar

heavy as iron, the river
sliding its hardware beneath the bridge
dark conveyor belt, ferrying
the cottonwoods’ leaves
big, yellow, generous hearts


--spring transport
to the McCloud river, early
sinking over the boot tops into snow--

dark Cadillac of the water, opulent
black rose over the falls


always the smell of sewage by the river
the Sacramento flows over its stones
like a yellow bottle

the alder
trailing a hand in the water

sitting in its shade
feel the tributaries of air

seen through the foliage
an entering creek--
falling water, relentlessly down

the cliff--
stone down to the road

an apple, red-cheeked on one side
bobs and whirls, leisurely at first
sudden acceleration through
the eddies, a fast ride away


the Sacramento in dips and standing waves
following a watercourse

the river constantly leaves itself behind at the banks
gets lost in the white stones


--High flows
Gray-green, business efficient
Trucking the rainstorm back to sea

Around the curves they bend as one
Tossing white horns--the waves


inexperienced in rivers
and noticing the white streamers
I used to think the water was flowing in the other

charging up, I suppose,
the staircase of rolled river stones
up through Dunsmuir alongside the track
past the loop, hissing up
between the bookcases
of the green-gray cliffs
through the turbine
back behind the dam
Lake Siskiyou overflowing
into the mountains


all the preparation: nurturing, upbringing, schooling
and then I didn’t become anything

painstaking placement
on a journey without destination

(study for the other world?)
(long preparation for fading away?)

burned to a white ash, my hair
my skin sizzles when you touch it (and then so cold)
my life, lately, has been a returning

back to first things
which are also last things—

sunlight on the steps
(stabs of joy in the belly)

backwards river

It’s been a long preparation for the return

Thursday, June 26, 2008

no dog poems
to me dogs (and children)
are tragic figures


the gold grows thinner
wears off the finger
the finger shrinks or expands

it is good to wear several rings
over a lifetime

that we found each other, spoke our vow
is not why we’re together now
no mourning doves in Dunsmuir
Steller’s jays waving their black steeples
I cast my mind back, walk through the house
open the drawers, hunt through the cupboards
upstairs, down, look out through the windows
the mountain, still there
I’ve already lost too many homes
I’m keeping this one

(I don’t miss the black widow spiders)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fire Summer 2002

“there are many things that I did wrong
I know that now
but reality should share the blame
it too has changed”

my mother and I
throw open the doors of the house
still hot from the previous
day’s sun manufacture

to the cooler morning air
reeking of campfires
from forests burning all over Oregon
smoke swings the chime

gap and a shadow where the mountain
formerly rose,
the grays of the air arranged
in order of distance flat against the ridges

our peaches are going to taste of smoke this year
we are trying to get used to it

and the truth for which
we have been preparing the children
is even now preparing to shift

Monday, June 23, 2008

river rocks

for months I bring home the same stones
moss-green packages, wrapped in white string

serpentinite sunk in ocean shadow

smile a black smile for me

unfinished, unpolished, but posted anyway

If you ignore the signs
part the red switches
force the grey branches of the willow
with your weight
take the short leap over running water
to a bank of stones

and stay there long enough
looking down, inside the sounds
of water which change reality
the hunched stones may open up to you
bloom like flowers
among the sunning spiders

in pinks, greens, midnight blues
yellow, orange into rust
subdued fires in
kidney shapes, lozenges
triangles, balls

kitchen flooring, patterned stone
alive with crystals or
moss-green packages tied with string
midnight black
with star sprinkles, embedded crystal

may even find one remarkable enough to add
to the display of heart shaped stones
placed by students beside the teacher’s door

walking past

bad timing, lack of experience
beside the river, in the road
wind ruffling clean luxurious fur
too bad about the shining almond eyes